Sunday, November 11, 2007

A remarking of the passing of Norman Mailer

It’s a long time since I read a book by Norman Mailer. Correction. It’s a long time since I finished a book by Norman Mailer. I'm sure that if I went & prowled my library shelves I'd find stuff written by him in the last few decades. Thick books as I recall them, about Egypt, the CIA, the JFK Assassination—books that I read some part of, because I felt I had an obligation to do so, because I'd liked him once….but that was in another country, & besides…….

But I did like his writing, especially his journalism; Miami & The Siege of Chicago & Armies of the Night loom large in my memory, as does his book about Foreman & Ali in Zaire. I liked his arrogance, disliked his chauvinism, but that was of the time. His was a studied style that meshed well inside my head with the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson who I was also reading at the time.

Beyond that, however, is the fact that he had been around since I reached what I would describe as my age of discernment & had continued on up to the present, still putting out, even if I'm not reading it. The continuity. Five decades ballpark; & there aren't many who still fit the bill. I've been trying to think of them. Some painters. No musicians. J.G. Ballard. A handful of poets. Sure, those that are gone live on as the spectres I talk to over lunch; but in the flesh, no matter how fragile, there's now one less. Who will be next, I wonder. How long will my life last now that the signposts are coming down?

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